Boreal Birds or Bust!

We must be crazy.  How many hundreds of miles have Corey and I driven in New York State this year?  Some would say far too many, but I feel even worse for him, because he has made extra trips to Long Island and New York City in the quest of a big year.  But no matter how far, or how long, we once again headed north into the Adirondacks.  This time we took the ‘double D’s’ Daisy and Danika, so that they could carry our gear, er, I mean spend time with us…

The day started at the cruel hour of 4:30am, when Corey and Daisy arrived to pick us up.  About two hours later and one Ruffed Grouse and Wild Turkey later, we made the turn off Rt. 30 in Hamilton County, New York onto Lake Jessup Road.

The main purpose of this road was to try and get Mourning Warbler a nortorious skulker.  Shortly after starting down the road, we came across another Ruffed Grouse with about a half dozen chicks (3/4 grown).  Further down the road the dawn chorus began, albeit late with air temps in the low 40’s at best.  Cool even, by July Adirondack standards.  In fact the temperature would not break 60 the entire time we were birding!  Blue-headed Vireo, Least Flycatcher, Am. Redstart, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Ovenbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, White-throated Sparrow, Blue Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Dark-eyed Junco and Veery were all heard at several stops along the road.

Suddenly the road went by a medium sized pond and bog, the morning mist was stunning in the early morning sun.

Bog Fog

An Adirondack Bog, Hamilton County, New York

From here we added Wood Duck, Magnolia Warbler, Swamp Sparrow and Pileated Woodpecker.  But the highlight other than the gorgeous morning was a very cooperative Northern Parula.

Northern Parula, Hamilton County, New York

Just a little bit further down the road (and adding Common Raven, Indigo Bunting, Canada Warbler, Northern Flicker, Swainson’s Thrush, Hermit Thrush and Black-throated Green Warbler) we came to another even larger bog.  While we were there, an older gentleman asked us if we had seen any Moose, we hadn’t and he seemed dissapointed.  However we began to get birds we had driven all that way to see.

Where's Spiderman?

An Olive-sided Flycatcher called and could be seen hanging out ontop of the dead snags in the Swamp.  A Lincoln’s Sparrow gave perhaps the best look I have ever had with this species.  A Common Loon called from nearby and a female Hooded Merganser was spotted with about 6-10 chicks.  We then heard the harsh mournful song of the Mourning Warbler in a small clearing about a hundred yards back up the road.  On the way up to try and find it (Corey did, I didn’t) we added Blackburnian Warbler as well.

We had already had a great amount of success, so we made our way north to Ferd’s Bog in Hamilton County (after of course at stop at Stewarts for breakfast).  We have not had much success at Ferd’s this year and this was no exception.  Winter Wren and Brown Creeper were added as was Red-tailed Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk.  Corey spotted 2 Boreal Chickadees in a flock of Black-capped Chickadees, but they vanished before the rest of us could get looks at them.  No woodpeckers were to be found.

From here we made our way north through Hamilton County, our next stop was the area around Bloomingdale Bog.  Passing through Tupper Lake, we added Mallard and Ring-necked Duck.  A few Common Mergansers could be found on the various ponds and small lakes on the drive up. 

We headed straight for an area near Bloomingdale where a Black-backed Woodpecker nest had been spotted (Both Corey and I are missing this species on our year list).  We arrived and searched and found nothing, but we did have a Fox run by as we drove down the road.  We next decided to try Bloomindale Bog/Bigelow Road off Oregon Plains Road (where Corey and I had a great time with Crossbills and Gray Jay’s last winter and where Danika got her best ever photo of a Boreal Chickadee).  Nashville Warblers were singing and Golden-Crowned Kinglets were also found.  A Fisher crossed the road, giving us a rare look at this very secretive species.  Bloomingdale Bog was dead silent.  Blue Jays were active on the way in, and a Lincoln’s and Song Sparrows were at the bog itself.  It was cool and windy and things were not in a very cooperative mood.  However, the scenery was once again stunning.

 Bloomingdale Bog, Franklin County, New York

Striking out on Woodpeckers, we tried one last time at the previous Black-backed location and again found nothing.  On the way out of Bloomingdale Bog we spotted a pair of Rusty Blackbirds, the last new bird of the day.

From there it was time for the long drive back to Albany, we were tired, hungry and somewhat dissappointed we didn’t get the Woodpeckers, but both Corey and I added 3 new species to our year list (For those interested I’m at 227 after the Hooded Warbler yesterday).  There are now rumors that yet another trip is possible very soon, this time we are aiming high, Spruce Grouse….

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5 responses to “Boreal Birds or Bust!

  1. Pingback: Adirondack Birding Adventure

  2. You’ve got me licking my chops for boreal birding! We leave in a few days for two weeks of family visits in New York and Maine. Even ovenbirds and wood thrushes are exotic to me these days. congrats on what sounds like a great day afield!

  3. Ovenbirds shouldn’t be too hard to find, but Wood Thrushes right now are pretty much only singing at dawn and dusk.

    Boreal birds provide birders with a lot of frustration, acres and acres of great habitat and no birds. The next day two other birders were at Bloomingdale Bog and found a whole family of Black-backed Woodpeckers. Just makes me want to go back and try again. However when you do find them, there is something special about Boreal birds. Perhaps I admire anything that can survive temperatures that hit -45 F.

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